If there came a time where the greatest entertainers that the world has ever known were to stand and be counted, standing among – nay, above them! – would be one man that changed the world of comics as we knew it. Three Words – STAN the MAN!
With a career spanning 8 decades, Stan Lee has produced work that has stood the test of time and continued to entertain and inspire folks, and he hasn’t stopped yet. He’s still working hard every day to give the people something to make ’em excited. Not only is he a great writer, but also a great performer. Nobody works a crowd like Stan. And though there may be people out there who’ve not seen an interview or taken in a panel, they’ve at least caught his quirky and enjoyable cameos in the multitude of Marvel Superhero films that have graced the cinema over the past ten years. This year itself boasts cameos by Mr. Lee in both Thor and Captain America. Not only that, but he also makes an appearance in the documentary, Superheroes – a feature that focuses on the “Real Life Superhero” Movement. But if you really want to see Stan at his best in front of the camera, there’s a whole bunch of DVD’s you should check out. Some you may have seen. Some you may not even know existed. All worth seeing for any Stan Fan out there. Read on True Believers for Enlightenment!
1) Comic Books Unbound (2008) [Anchor Bay Entertainment]
What’s It All About? : Originally made for T.V., airing on the Starz network in 2008, this documentary takes a look into the world of Comic Book Film adaptation. Going back to the serials of the 1940s all the way to the present (which, at the time, was the set of Hellboy II), the film is filled with interviews with both the comic creators and film industry players. It also gives an overview of the struggle comic books have had to stay alive in mainstream society throughout the years. Clocking in at 59 minutes, the film is not as extensive as one would hope, but it is still impressive at how much of Comic’s history it includes. There are references to the Comic Book witch hunts led by Frederick Wertham, and more obscure films like Fritz the Cat. The comic creators chosen for interviews are also a nice mix – Stan Lee, Paul Pope, Neal Adams, Mike Mignola, Jim Steranko, and more! The interviews are well done, the presentation is sleek, and overall it’s a quaint little look at Hollywood’s progressive interest in the Comic Book Genre.
The Stan Factor : Stan gets a good amount of face time in this doc. He brings his wit and charm to almost every segment as each decade of comicdom is touched on. It’s interesting to hear his take on comic projects that he doesn’t have a direct involvement in. Stan gets his due here.
Extra Stan? : There are interview out takes on the disc, one of which is of Stan Lee talking about his cameo in Iron Man. He speaks tongue-in-cheek about his acting prowess (They call me “One Take Lee”) and reveals that he waits till the theatres to see how his performance turned out.
Bottom Line : Although this is not the most important DVD for a True Believer to have, it’s definitely a welcome addition and is at least worth an online viewing. ‘Nuff Said.
2) Mallrats : 10th Anniversary Extended Edition (2005) [Universal Pictures]
What’s It All About? : Originally released in 1995, Kevin Smith’s tale of Slacking Off at the Mall, which was a tribute to both the “teen titty” pictures of the late seventies and early eighties as well as the adolescent romantic comedies of John Hughes, was a film that flopped at the box office but gained a huge cult following after its release on Video. Most assuredly the under-appreciated of the View Askew Film Catalog, the story focuses on two friends, Brodie and T.S. , as they commiserate about their recent break ups with the girls of their dreams. This eventually leads to a plot to gain them back that involves a cable access dating show being shot in the mall they hang out in. With a ton of interesting side characters, and a very important cameo by one Mr. Stan Lee, the film has a fun story, and stands out as ahead of its time. If the film was released years later, during the American Pie craze, it would have probably had a strong showing in theatres. Thankfully though, it’s a fun little gem enjoyed by us fanboys.
The Stan Factor : Stan Lee is a man of major importance in the second and third acts of this movie. Not only is he the “spiritual guru” that helps Brodie understand the importance of love, but his final appearance in the film is what triggers Willam Black to loose his cool and provide the “cannonating kick” during the climax of the film. Stan’s lines are cheesy and cute, but that’s how we like our Stan, right? Also, Marvel Comic’s artwork is strongly featured in the backgrounds of various scenes. And, of course, there is the coolest comic cover drawn of Stan Lee in the opening credits. The book is entitled “Adventures of the MAN” and shows Lee opening his shirt to reveal the fat cash. I know I’d buy this comic if one exited.
Extra Stan? : Unfortunately, no. While there are a great deal of extras on this double-sided disc which carries two cuts of the film, commentary track, deleted scenes, cast reunion, two retrospective mini-docs, and several easter eggs, there is no extra footage of Stan the Man. This stands as the DVD’s only flaw.
Bottom Line : This is a must for any Stan Lee fan as this is his most important cameo in a film….and the one where he’s got the most lines.
3) Stan Lee’s Mutants, Monsters, and Marvels (2002) [Creative Light Video]
What’s It All About? : This one’s about Stan the Man, straight up! In a sit down interview with Kevin Smith, Stan gives us two features worth of stories. In the first installment, Stan talks about his greatest achievement in “Creating Spider-Man”. Then, in feature #2, he speaks on his start in the comics industry and his other creations in “Here Comes the Heroes”. With rare photos from Lee’s personal archives, this is one of the most in-depth looks at “the father of our modern mythology”.
The Stan Factor : This one’s all Stan Lee. The Chairman Emeritus takes us on a journey through comics. This is a view of the Bullpen from the Inside.
Extra Stan? : All Extras are Stan and Nothing But! Along with the standard “behind the scenes” featurette and deleted scenes, there’s also an interview with Stan’s wife , Joan, as well as an audio clip of Stan reciting his original poem, God Woke.
Bottom Line : Above all other DVDs I mention on this list, this is the one to have. It has more Stan than any other DVD in existence. You must own this….NOW!
4) Comic Book : The Movie (2004) [Miramax Films]
What’s It All About? : This 2004 Direct-To-DVD mockumentary, directed and starring Mark Hamill, is to the Comic Book Industry what This Is Spinal Tap was to the Music Industry. High School Teacher, Donald Swan (Hamill) heads to the world’s largest comic con to convince a major studio to keep the film version of Commander Courage, it’s latest acquired property, connected to its original comic roots. With a cast of voice actors playing on camera rolls and tons of cameos, including one from Stan the Man, it’s a Geek’s Wet Dream. Never before has the San Diego Comic Con been brought to the screen with such imagination and true reverence. This one for the fan in all of us.
The Stan Factor : Stan gets a few plum appearances in the movie. One more notable scene is when Stan explains the comic trends of the forties and fifties and how Commander Courage had to change with the times. When Romance comics were big, there was Courage to Love. When War Comics were what was in, There was Combat Courage. And, of course, when Westerns were in fashion, there was Courage in the Saddle!
Extra Stan? : The Amount of Bonus Material in the DVD package for Comic Book : The Movie is enough to make 3 additional movies. There is one extra that is Stan Lee Specific – a featurette titled Stan Lee on Comic Book Movies. The featurette consists of an interview with Smiling Stan and a panel from the San Diego Comic Con with Stan moderated by Mark Hamill and voice actor Tom Kenny of SpongeBob SquarePants fame.
Bottom Line : This may only have a quarter full of Stan, but the other 3 quarters are filled with stuff that every geek would love. This is a keeper.
5) Countdown to Wednesday : An Inside Look at the Comic Book Biz and How to Break In (2003) [Ventura Distribution]
What’s It All About? : This is a DVD that sums itself up in the title. It covers every facet and job that’s needed to make a comic book. From the Writer to the Artist to the Inker, all the way to the Editor, this DVD shows you it all. With Interviews of many Comic Book Professionals, we get a breakdown of how to get good at a certain job and how to present yourself to the industry.
The Stan Factor : Mr. Lee gets his time during the writing portion of the feature. That is the first part of the doc, so once they move onto Art, there is no more Stan. But if you’re interested on how a comic book gets made and the steps to bring it to print, this is a disc for you.
Extra Stan? : There is one special feature that involves Stan. In a 2 minute and 37 second ad for A.C.T.O.R (Now known as the Hero Initiative), Stan lets us know about the many veteran creators that are struggling in their twilight years and how they need our help. It gives the information on where to donate and has that Smiling Stan touch of class.
Bottom Line : Unless you are interested in going into the comic business yourself, you can pass on this one. It’s a well put together doc, but it puts the information over the entertainment. This one is for True Believers only.
6) How to Draw Comics The Marvel Way (1988) [Anchor Bay Entertainment]
What’s It All About? : Once again, the title sums it up perfectly. This is the video adaptation of the acclaimed book, How to Draw Comics The Marvel Way, by Stan Lee and John Buscema. Lee and Buscema both appear in this instructional video that covers the tools needed to draw, the elements of form, perspective, composition, and the importance of drawing dynamic action sequences. As the write up on the case states, “Through it All, Stan and John show the right (and wrong) ways to create professional characters and situations using examples from Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, The Avengers and Many Others.”
The Stan Factor : Stan is your guide through this entire video. And it’s Stan from the eighties, so not only do we get perfect cheese, we get 80’s Stan, which in hindsight, was the cheesiest he’s ever been.
Extra Stan? : This DVD is a straight copy of the original VHS version that was released in ’88, so no special features to speak of. However, watching this 58 minute feature can be enhanced by playing the “How to Drink Comics : The Marvel Way” Drinking Game! Take a drink every time one of the following happens:
- – Stan mentions the amazing abilities of video and how you can pause, rewind, or stop the video.
- – Stan makes a cheesy joke.
- – John Buscema rolls his eyes.
- – Double shot if any two of the above happen simultaneously.
Bottom Line : This one is just too much fun not to own. And you can get it almost anywhere for around $5. That’s a steal! Best of all, it shows you how to avoid drawing like the artists at brand Echhh!
7) Marvel Then and Now : A Night with Stan Lee & Joe Quesada (2007) [Maverick Interactive Inc.]
What’s It All About? : Brought to you by The Hero Initiative, this is a live panel discussion from December 2 2006, where Kevin Smith moderated an event celebrating Marvel’s past and present with 2 prominent Marvel figures, Stan the Man, and Joe Quesada (who was the Editor and Chief of Marvel at that time). In front of a packed crowd at UCLA, the three men discuss the many characters and successes of The House of Ideas. With special appearances from Reginald Hudlin, and producer Kevin Feige, this is a look at Marvel through the years. The Video has the tag-line “Very Very Live!” and this is true as the event was mired with technical difficulties. But is doesn’t matter because it’s an amazing show to behold. Three men sit on couches and put on one of the best shows about Comics I have ever seen.
The Stan Factor : As he is one of the featured guests of this event, Stan Lee is one of the main attractions on this DVD. It’s amazing to watch Stan work a crowd. He’s like a vaudeville comic. This is even more evident as he trades quips with Smith. It’s a blending of styles that shouldn’t work, yet these two men pull it off.
Extra Stan? : The Extras are Sparse on this DVD, but once again, the extras that are there are Stan Centric. Stan gives a backstage interview where he explains the origins of “True Believers” and dissects the average comic book fan. There are also interviews with Joe Quesada, Kevin Smith, Brian Pulido, and Jeph Loeb – all are focused on Stan the Man and his influence on the Comic Genre.
Bottom Line : This is a Must Own! Not only is it another example of Stan at his best, but it’s also for a good cause. Copies of the disc are still available online through the Hero Initiative and are only $6 with all proceeds going to the charity. 6 Bucks is a steal and it helps creators who’re down on their luck. Why wouldn’t you buy it? Go to http://www.thenandnowdvd.org/ to purchase this great DVD!
So that’s the list of the BEST DVDs that feature Stan Lee. Be sure to get all of these discs right away. And remember to always look upward and onward! Excelsior!
And if you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!